Canberra Raiders lock Joe Tapine has said it will be an emotional occasion for new Raider Ryan James this Sunday as he makes his return to the field after suffering successive ACL injuries.
The former Gold Coast Titans captain recently moved to the nation’s capital and has worked extremely hard to force his way into Ricky Stuart’s round one team.
“I know he’s buzzing and there will be a lot of emotion going into [the game],” Tapine said.
The inclusion of James adds further depth to an already strong Raiders forward pack and Tapine is already reaping the benefits of that at training.
“It pushes everyone,” Tapine said. “It makes you work a bit harder, training is a bit more intense.”
The extra depth in the forwards will be important as the Raiders take on the Wests Tigers this Sunday at GIO Stadium.
The Tigers have recruited heavily in the forwards with former Penrith captain James Tamou joined in the front row by former Queensland prop Joe Ofahengaue.
“They’ll be out to prove a point, it will be a big test for us, but we are ready,” Tapine said. “I reckon we look really good shape wise, and we’ve added another string to the bow.”
The lock is also looking forward to the prospect of playing in front of a packed crowd at GIO Stadium for this first time since the 2019 preliminary final.
“The last time we had it here was that prelim against Souths and that was a mad atmosphere,” Tapine said. “I’m hoping it will be the same this week.”
Raider’s outside-back Bailey Simonsson echoed the points of Tapine expressing his excitement ahead of their round one clash this weekend.
“We’re hoping for [a crowd of] 20,000 plus,” Simonsson said. “It’s good for the local community. They’ve obviously missed out on a lot last year with COVID.
“It’s going to be a big day for Canberra and everyone out there. Hopefully, we can put on a good performance together and repay the faith of those fans.”
Match: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Round 1 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra